Map of Annual Snowfall in the USA

This interactive map displays the Annual Average Snowfall in the United States. For stations, snowfall and elevation, hover over the map. Zoom out to see Alaska. Zoom in to see all stations in detail.

Annual Snowfall Average (in)

Snow Formation

Snow is the solid precipitation that occurs when temperatures drop below 32°F or 0°C.

Snow in Vermont

Snow forms when small ice crystals inside clouds adhere to each other. If they become heavy enough, they will fall to the ground.

Snowflakes that fall in moist air that is just warmer than 32°F (0°C) will melt on their edges and stick to other snowflakes. These result in bigger snowflakes. Snow that descends through cold and dry air produces powdery snow that does not stick together.

Precipitation of snow occurs when the air temperature is below 35.6°F (2°C).

If the temperature is warmer than 35.6°F (2°C), the snowflake will melt and fall as sleet. If it gets evenwarmer then it will fall as rain.

When there are strong winds, snowfall can result in blizzards! Source: Metoffice.

Snowfall in the U.S.A.

The snowfall shown in this map is the annual average total for each station depicted. The averages were calculated between 1981 and 2010. The data comes from 6,377 stations in the U.S.A.

Aurora over snowy cabin

The annual average is displayed in inches. The elevation of each station is in meters above sea level. To learn more about the data, check this article from NOAA.

Only 22% of the country received, on average, more than 40 inches of snowfall per year, and just 5 stations received more than 400 inches.

Because snowfall is so uneven, the color scale on the map is not linear.

The states with the least snow are those with the most stations depicted in white. These states are Hawaii, Florida, Louisiana, Alabama, and Mississippi. These states have temperature lows in the upper 60s.



Snowiest Locations in the U.S.A.

Remote and uninhabited locations, like Mt. Rainier in Washington, are likely to have extreme snow. Snowy towns are mountain ski resorts like Alta, in Utah.

It is essential to keep in mind that climate change has changed the amounts and locations of snowfall throughout the U.S.A. and the world.

The following table has the 10 snowiest locations in the U.S.A.

StationStateSnowfall (in)Elevation (m)Elevation (ft)
RAINIER PARADISE RSWA670.81,6545,426
ALTAUT546.12,6608,729
CRATER LAKE NPS HQOR482.51,9736,475
SILVER LAKE BRIGHTONUT411.12,6648,740
ECHO SUMT SIERRA ATCA407.42,2407,350
WOLF CREEK PASS 1 ECO392.13,24310,640
TWIN LAKESCA375.02,4388,000
BRIAN HEADUT368.42,9779,770
VALDEZ WSOAK326.32995
MT EVANS RSCH STNCO300.93,24010,629

What Affects Snowfall in the U.S.A.?

Below are some of the factors that affect snowfall in the U.S.A. These factors are not the only ones, just the ones easy to observe on the map.

ski next to snowy mountains

Elevation

The higher you go, the colder it gets. For every 1,000 feet gained in elevation, the air temperature is roughly 3.5°F colder.

So nearby areas with different elevations might have drastic differences in snowfall depending on their elevation.

An interesting result is that air flowing toward a mountain cannot penetrate it. It will be forced to rise, cool, condense, and if it is cool enough, it will produce clouds. If the air is moist, it will produce precipitation in the form of rain or snow.

The side where the air pushes is called the windward side. It is common for windward sides to get snow. The opposite side, or leeward, does not get much precipitation, of any kind.

Examples of high snowfall in the mountains are visible in the Appalachians, the Cascades, and the Sierra Nevada; Washington Post.

For this reason, elevation has been included in the stations on the map.



Lake Effect

On the map, you can see that the states surrounding the Great Lakes have more snow. This is due to the Lake Effect.

Frigid air blowing from Canada rushes over the warmer waters of the Great Lakes.

The air over the lakes is moist, promoting massive snowstorms.

Moisture is a significant factor in snow production. The coldest areas in the U.S. do not produce the most snow. This is because they are sometimes too dry to form snow.

Coastal Climate

Water masses cool and warm, slower than land masses. This applies to coastal areas. When the temperature drops inland, it will not translate immediately into the shores.

The Pacific Ocean brings a cool breeze throughout the year. But when winter weather comes, it keeps cities like San Francisco from freezing or getting snowfall.



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Resources for U.S. Snowfall Map

The snowfall averages were downloaded from Anthony Arguez, Imke Durre, Scott Applequist, Mike Squires, Russell Vose, Xungang Yin, and Rocky Bilotta (2010). NOAA's U.S. Climate Normals (1981-2010). [Snow-Inventory]. NOAA National Centers for Environmental Information. DOI:10.7289/V5PN93JP [November 2022].

The Shapefiles for this map were downloaded from Natural Earth.

Made by Luz K. Molina with D3.js.

This map will be updated with improved and recent information! To receive updates on this and more nature maps, join my email list!!!!!!!

Map of annual snowfall average in the U.S.A.

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